Vitiligo is a skin disorder that is widely accepted as an autoimmune disease. It is often presumed to be linked to autoimmune activity directed against melanocytes. Many autoimmune disorders are reported to get better during pregnancy. This could be one of the reasons why a majority of vitiligo fighters report that their vitiligo had improved/remained stable during pregnancy despite suspending topical corticosteroid treatment during the pregnancy.
Having said that, many vitiligo fighters experience hyperactivity of the chronic skin disorder during their pregnancy. This blog addresses the possible cause(s) and management of the same.
Vitiligo and Pregnancy – What’s the connection
While literature about vitiligo activity related to pregnancy is sparse, as per a research by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 4.2% of study participants reported the onset of vitiligo for the first time during a prior pregnancy. This may hint that the stress of pregnancy may have triggered vitiligo in the first place.
As the pregnancy is linked with far-reaching hormonal changes in the body, maybe that’s why sometimes vitiligo appears or worsens all of a sudden during pregnancy. The hyperactivity of vitiligo is assumed to be associated with nutritional deficiency. During pregnancy, the deficiency of Vitamin B12 and Iron clearly increases. Emotional stress can also be increased during pregnancy, which, in turn, increases the chances of developing/worsening vitiligo during pregnancy.
What can you do to look after your vitiligo during pregnancy?
Since no research has adequately assessed changes in vitiligo activity during pregnancy, it is difficult to establish what triggers development/worsening of vitiligo symptoms during pregnancy. Is it physiological or immunologic changes during pregnancy or a combination of these confounders? We need more studies to find that out.
Meanwhile, we can least follow below-mentioned tips to remain stress-free during pregnancy and manage vitiligo more effectively.
1. Say no to strong topical creams
You may presume that it is okay to continue with topical medication for vitiligo as it’s not oral administration. But, that’s a bit presumptuous; isn’t it?. Strong topical creams should also be avoided, especially around the belly area. Since vitiligo differs from person to person, we cannot give a general recommendation. So, it’s extremely important to take the concerns and questions to your doctor, and chart out a plan which is most suitable for you.
2. Consult a homeotherapist
To control vitiligo activity during pregnancy, you don’t have to necessarily abort all vitiligo treatments. Among different disciplines of vitiligo treatments, homeopathic treatment is considered the safest option for mother and child. Hydrocotyle Asiatica, Arsenicum-Sulphuricum-Flavum, Silica and Phosphorous are most widely prescribed homeopathic medicines that don’t have an adverse effect on pregnancy. A word of caution: Consult a homeotherapist only when your obstetrician allows it.
3. Take charge of your heart
Get your blood tested for nutritional deficiency as vitiligo often hypothesized to be linked with that. The deficiency of iron, Vitamin B12 (if found) should be corrected with the consultation of your obstetrician-gynecologist. Nutritional sufficiency would be great for your baby too.
4. Breathe-in, breathe-out
There is evidence that emotional stress can precipitate vitiligo. Hence, it is important to remain stress-free with some form of meditation. Many Yoga poses too can help mothers-to-be remain calm. Consult a certified Yoga expert and indulge in regular yoga and meditation practice for a calming effect on your mind.
5. Get enough rest and sleep
This would be great for your baby and your vitiligo alike. Take a break or a nap whenever you feel exhausted. As a thumb rule, go to bed early. Sound sleep is essential for anyone’s mental health and it also supports a healthy pregnancy.
6. Practice mindfulness
Some mums-to-be wonder if their vitiligo could be passed on to their kids. The only thought of it may lock you in a vicious cycle of constant worrying and panic situations. Here, mindfulness can help you connect with the world around you, moment to moment. It won’t let you get lost in negative thoughts. Health research suggests mindfulness can help ease anxiety, stress, worry or depression in mothers-to-be. So, take the time to pay full attention to those small moments in life. Feel the sun on your face or observe your baby’s kicks.
7. Talk about it
If you are part of a vitiligo support group, talk about your pregnancy with fellow group members. Some women who had vitiligo while delivering their babies may help you out with their valuable tips and coping mechanism.
8. Focus on your baby
From about 23 weeks, your baby can hear your voice, so try enjoying that rather than focusing on vitiligo. Your baby is way more precious than vitiligo. So, keep all vitiligo worries at bay and start chatting, singing and reading to your bumps. This will help you to feel more positive about your pregnancy.